The Good Shepherd

By Ramzy Nasrallah on October 9, 2012 at 1:00p

Ohio State's Compliance Department recently sent an 805-page care package to the NCAA Committee on Infractions (COI). This was done in lieu of scribbling I promise to do more to keep any miserable part of 2011 from ever happening again 100 times on a chalkboard in Indianapolis.

That monster document has already been summarized into digestible story-length synopses.  Unfortunately I'm an old English major and will always prefer the source material over people's interpretations of it, since there is so much you can learn about intent from the scenes relegated to the Director's Cut.

And yes, I do know the proper way to prepare, salt and serve your french fries, but that's just an ancillary benefit of my degree. #humblebrag

Anyone who took the time to consume each miserable word of every NCAA document and story of 2011 knows that Buckeyes' postseason fate was sealed more by Bobby DiGeronimo making Ohio State a no-doubt repeat offender in the COI's eyes and less by Jim Tressel's diabolical coverup of his players bartering their possessions for discounts on tattoos.

We had previously debated whether the Troy Smith $500 handshake of 2004 would count toward the NCAA's repeat-offender window, making Tatgate's punishments more severe. It turned out it wasn't going to, but Bobby D resurfacing right around the time Terrelle Pryor was trying to convince the NFL that he should be eligible for the supplemental draft made the Smith affair irrelevant.

Since all that came down, OSU Compliance has been hard at work, as evidenced by all that paper. The irony is that I'm now going to summarize that monster document, as if you should trust me any less than I trust other summarizers.

Either way, I combed through all 805 pages, many of which were duplicates or copies of forms for things like vehicle registration and apartment leases. Here's my Director's Cut of all that stock footage.


Ohio State's case number with the COI is M352. Go ahead and make that your new unlucky number (the M is already on your bad letter list).

The document was not a voluntary exercise; its genesis stems from one of the many requirements for Ohio State brought forth by the NCAA ruling last December. They have to check in and let the COI know how they're doing.

You would hope that everything is just swell, you guys would be sufficient, but the honor system has its flaws.

Upon stating its intent to fulfill the annual report requirement of its sanctions, Ohio State reminds the COI of its crimes. There's no need to rehash that, however here is what the AD has done since emerging from the rubble of 2011's cavity search that included FOI requests and media-driven lawsuits:

hands up; hands outPosey and Pryor both made multiple appearances in the LOI.

1. The Org Chart: It's bigger. More butts working compliance, checking on more players and more frequently. At least one compliance officer will now accompany teams on road trips. Sounds fun.

2. Job Creation: Seven new heads, ranging from assistant ADs to associates. The one the digestible synopses seized upon was Jazmine Lavender, of the Ohio State women's basketball Lavender clan - though the most interesting hire to me was Jason Singleton, who carries not only an NCAA investigator work history but a background in money laundering. He's legit.

3. Audits: Ohio State is having them. If you've won an award, have a jersey, ring, whatever - you need to be prepared to produce proof of your possession of that item for the balance of your amateurism. Special game jerseys, like the atrocious Nike Pro Combat ones, as well as helmets will be housed in containers that were constructed earlier this year specifically to house them until eligibility is exhausted.

4. Vehicles: Buckeyes already register their cars with the Ohio BMV. Now they'll also be registering them with the AD.

5. Tickets: If a player gives you tickets, you're going to be screened before you attend that game.

6. Social Media: Ohio State invested in software to track players' tweets and status updates. They're also required to take Twitter and Facebook class. Some players might have to take that class again.Slide shown to players

7. Hi Braxton|Hi Crafty: If you're really good at football or whatever, congratulations - you get special attention. This section might as well be the DiGeronimo Clause because it puts new restrictions on where players can appear and what the nature of those appearances can and can't be.

8. Autographs: Not happening, not even for charity. Not from active players, anyway. Coaches can sign items, and there's a formal process for that now.

9. Jobs: Players have to tell the AD about them, they have to be approved and - here's the catch - they have to show up for work and produce paperwork.

10. Education: Everyone's getting it: Athletes, boosters, local businesses (I see you, Chipotle server brazenly giving away extra carnitas and free guacamole), parents, you, me, everyone. Holes are plugged and potential holes are being reinforced. The AD has no interest in having another 2011, ever.


The COI was given all of Ohio State's cancelled checks as evidence of what the university paid beyond all of the other papercuts and sanctions.

There are checks for $53,135 made out to the Boys & Girls Club, Make A Wish Foundation, Special Olympics and YWCA, along with that famous $20,000 check cut to Little Sisters of the Poor (not TCU - the actual Little Sisters).

You got mashed, Ducks.Tressel and Pryor following their last official game.

What's also included among the appendices:

1. PSA Letter. A copy of a letter required to be sent to high school players who take official visits to campus that spells out all of Ohio State's sanctions. The wording sucks and amounts to some Hester Prine shaming and I'll leave it at that.

2. Prohibition of Sale Letter. Each player is required to sign a form promising not to engage in casting for a Tatgate sequel.

3. Slideshow! The PowerPoints shown to the team prior to the TaxSlayer Bowl. Each player got six tickets to that shitshow game and they were accountable for them.

4. Shaming! Cautionary tales from Facebook, including the embarrassments of named players from Texas, Wake Forest, Slippery Rock, every school in Oklahoma (fish; barrel), Toledo, Arizona State, Florida State, East Carolina, New Mexico, UNC, Ohio State as well as the details of Michigan's current probation: DON'T STRETCH MORE THAN ALLOWED.

5. Agents, Drugs, Gambling, Fixing Games. All part of Compliance orientation. TL;DR - "NO."

6. Forms, forms, forms. All the stuff you can't sell and more. There's a cell phone registration form where the player indicates how he/she gets the money to pay the bill each month. Best part: There are spaces on the form to register three different cell phones. #playerplease

Stretchgate: NOT GONNA HAPPEN HERE 7. Book Buyback Program. To avoid this from ever happening in Columbus.

 8. Craig James Killed Five Hookers And SMU Football. A viewing of Pony Excess, in which former SMU players including James nostalgically romanticize their complicit actions in destroying the Mustangs.

 9. Voluntary Workouts: If Ohio State gets ensnared in anything resembling Stretchgate it won't be on account of not having enough slideshows about what's permissible.

 10. NFL Draft parties. You have to provide your own transportation to and from, and if that seven-layer nacho dip was prepared by someone fitting the definition of an NFL agent DON'T EAT IT.


 The document contains cautionary tale after cautionary tale after cautionary tale. Amateurism is more than a virtue: It's the monarch that rules this multi-billion dollar franchise and must be protected with vigilance.

Beyond simply providing guidance for players there are parameters for what coaches are permitted to do in recruiting, from time spent recruiting to guidelines for summer camps. Most of it seems geared toward football, as does the majority of the paperwork.

There are some interesting pieces of information about what transpired following Tatgate:

Hall of ghostsUnvacated history surrounds Meyer in the halls of the WHAC.

1. Sept 12, 2011 - discussion of preferential treatment and promotional activities for a specific player whose name name is blacked out. It expresses disdain that the activity occurred shortly after the Tatgate details broke.

2. Shariff Floyd. The Florida DE and former OSU recruiting target had to pay $2700 back to a charity while suspended. This case was discussed at the 9/12 meeting, perhaps because of the whiff of familiarity.

3. Social Networking for Coaches: Two weeks later coaches are informed that email is permissible but friending, tweeting, @ replying and IMing are not. Something called "MySpace" is also referenced. It must be new.

4. Second Season: The rules for recruiting are spelled out in great, painstaking detail. No question is too small or insignificant. It's a far cry from Woody Hayes simply recruiting the mothers of coveted players in order to install a permanent recruiter for Ohio State in each house.

Just a fraction of a multi-page section on July recruiting

5. Franklin Planner: Every month of the basketball season is mapped out, from April and July Evaluations to permissible phone calls. By the way, they're all permissible now - the excessive contact stuff that got Kelvin Sampson show cause'd (mainly for lying about it) is no longer against the rules.

6. D, R, Q: Dead, Recruiting or Quiet Period - these are all defined and scheduled. December 24-26 is a dead period. The period before, during and after the Final Four contains all three types of periods. Every question that has ever been asked about what is or isn't allowed is covered. It isn't overly specific or reeking of bloated bureaucracy at all. <-- sarcasm font

7. Boise State: Their violations across multiple sports that involved 75 players (what Pat Forde dismissed as "Couchgate" while building Tatgate up as some kind of watershed geopolitical scandal) are covered by OSU Compliance, which discusses how it can avoid similar transgressions at Ohio State which if they were to occur would undoubtedly receive the same media non-treatment as Boise State's did. <-- there's that font again

IT'S US AGAINST THE WORLD, STUDENT-ATHLETES 8. Honey Badger Does Care: LSU Compliance sent a cease and desist to proprietors of Honey Badger t-shirts, etc. "Honey Badger Does Care" was the subject line of the email sent to all OSU Compliance officials, which is kind of awesome.

 9. Safety Exceptions: Sometimes coaches are allowed to participate in off-season workouts if the element of danger is involved. The best example is regarding the OSU Pistol Team, where a coach is only allowed to be present without the session counting as an official practice session "when the student-athlete is shooting." Oh. Okay.

 10. Ding! Fries are Done: The massive redundancy within the document is necessary to show NCAA that OSU Compliance is all over everything. There are the rules, the changes to the rules, the slideshows for the players about the emails to compliance officials and university officers about the rules and email discussions between compliance officials about the drafts for the emails to everybody about the rules.

Summary: OSU Compliance is doing its job. Everything is just swell, you guys.



yrro's picture

So, wait, the athletes aren't allowed to autograph *anything* now? Damn, makes me doubly wish the pen on my autographed Rose Bowl jersey wasn't fading out so quickly.

Ramzy Nasrallah's picture

So, wait, the athletes aren't allowed to autograph *anything* now?

No one seems to believe it, so here's a screen-grab of that section.

Matt Finkes went to two of his best friends - Luke Fickell & Mike Vrabel - about the three of them signing a photograph of them from their playing days for the E2B auction and he was directed to use the Web site referred to in this section. It's serious.

gravey's picture

"organized" is the key word here is it not?

AngelHeartsBuckeyes's picture

So does this cover when you see an athlete at the mall and ask him for an autograph? The language 'organized student-athlete autograph signing session' seems to lend itself to the possibility that spontaneous autographs are okay...?.....

Buckeye born and bred. Buckeye til I'm dead.

Boxley's picture

Ramzy, my literary hero. Words fail me in the same degree, they dictate your success. Great job.
So my autographed Sugar bowl hat by TP is still mine isn't it?

"...the man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic-the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done." President T. Roosevelt

CALPOPPY's picture

Sorry, but your hat was vacated. If you wear it, I will refuse to recognize it.

I'm a hurtin' buckaroo.

doodah_man's picture

I have this vision of Urbz sitting down with a player and starting to pull the forms out of a vertical form file, "ok, want a cell phone? You will need an OSU-1B. Want a car? That calls for an OSU-2/B. Want to give mom and dad tickets? There, ya need an OSU-23-4". 
Ramzy, thanks for distilling this beast of a life is wasted super sizing. Also, props to whoever did the graphics. Very artsy f&rtsy.  

Jim "DooDah" Day

"If I were giving a young man advice as to how he might succeed in life, I would say to him, pick out a good father and mother, and begin life in Ohio.” --Wilbur Wright, 1910

AC1972's picture

Someone likes to play with photoshop!

tennbuckeye19's picture

8. Autographs: Not happening, not even for charity. Not from active players, anyway. Coaches can sign items, and there's a formal process for that now.

Wasn't there a signed Braxton Miller jersey raffled or auctioned @ E2B? 

Ramzy Nasrallah's picture

Yes, obtained through then-appropriate channels prior to the new rules for active players. It was donated to the charity auction.

builderofcoalitions's picture

I noticed that as well. Thankfully, it's all legit.

Because we couldn't go for three.

Doc's picture

Yes there was.  How did that get done?
Thanks Ramzy for the distillation process.

I'm hiding baby and I'm dreaming
I'm riding down your moonlight mile

gwalther's picture

I'm an attorney. Great stuff. You should consider law school yourself if you can summarize a complex 800 page document into a single blog post..

Class of 2008

ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

I love the eloquent way all of this is explained.  Well done, Ramzy. 
I wonder if my dad still has that hat that he had signed by Joe Germaine on the field after OSU beat TSUN in 1998. 

Class of 2010.

Alhan's picture

In the Boise State section you mention a font. Was there supposed to be a font change that just isn't showing up for me? I checked iexplorer and my droid.

Sorry if I'm dumb and missed an earlier reference that explains this.

"Nom nom nom" - Brady Hoke

Doc's picture

He was being sarcastic, hence the use of the imaginary "sarcasm font".  Sarcasm, like other things, can be miss interpreted when read.

I'm hiding baby and I'm dreaming
I'm riding down your moonlight mile

Alhan's picture

Heh, I got the sarcasm. 
Now I know about sarcasm-font, and knowing is half the battle.  Thanks Doc!
EDIT: I just saw the reference in the section before the Boise State section.  I fail at reading!

"Nom nom nom" - Brady Hoke

CALPOPPY's picture

Me fail English, that's unpossible!

I'm a hurtin' buckaroo.

Unky Buck's picture

I think he was just being his witty Ramzy-self in saying "sarcasm font" since you can't tell sarcasm in text/written form unless it's otherwise noted.

If you jiggle your monitor, does that make a jiggly gif?

scarpenter614's picture

Great, very detailed article and I agree on the graphics.  I still don't understand how all of this is necessary.  I thought the weight of the sanctions were due to Coach Tressel knowing of the infractions and not informing the NCAA for an extended time period.  You can create forms for every minute detail but where does it end?  I'm surprised they don't force the players' parents to file their tax returns with the NCAA.  Otherwise, how will they know if that Audi S5 came from mom and dad or from that shady car salesman?  It's rediculous and it's not going to work.  Let's just hope the guy making $4,000,000 a year makes better decisions if/when these things happen under his watch.

spqr2008's picture

I think that the rules regarding FAFSA cover that.  As far as I remember, parents don't have to share any information beyond the FAFSA about ability to pay (i.e. tax returns), and frankly, I'm not sure if Student Athletes would have to file a FAFSA if they have a full ride, or are having the part not covered by scholarship paid by their parents.

kr66osu's picture

Thanks for writing this, there is no way I was ever going to touch that document nevertheless actually read it. Glad to see OSU compliance is being extremely meticulous, I'd rather have them be overly thorough rather than potentially risking more crap slipping by them

spqr2008's picture

So if a player gives someone tickets, the receipient of the tickets has to be audited by the Athletic Dept?  I don't know about you, but I would seriously consider refusing tickets if they wanted to audit me.  I have nothing to hide, but wouldn't want to give all my personal info to them (which the school already has from my time as a student, but the Athletic Dept. couldn't access it due to FERPA).

AC1972's picture

It's not a detailed financial audit.  They do a quick background check and then someone from compliance calls you and asks a bunch of questions.

spqr2008's picture

Not that I know any players, but that gives me some peace of mind.  Going through more than a simple background check and a call would discourage friends and family from attending games, which would be a disadvantage in recruiting.

Unky Buck's picture

Thanks for the synopsis, Ramzy. I got to the 14th page and said screw it in the hopes that someone can write up something like this without pushing their personal feelings/opinions into it.

If you jiggle your monitor, does that make a jiggly gif?

GoBucks713's picture

"Something called "MySpace" is also referenced. It must be new."
What about Friendster?

-The Aristocrats!

SouthBayBuckeye's picture

They're all up in your AIM and MSN messenger accounts too. 
I hear they tell you what are and what are not acceptable away messages. 

Banned from ATO since June 3rd 2PMish PST

AC1972's picture

Observe my avatar.  Glad I got it when I did.  Yea 2012 Final Four!

Doc's picture

So, if a kid walks up to Braxton, Simon, or any of the other players and asks for an autograph they get denied?  Wow, that is harsh.  I completely understand the situation, but wow.  Just seems sad that the true fan of the team gets hosed in this situation.  It is a real shame that people ruined a good thing just to make a quick buck on the interwebs.  Thanks dicks!

I'm hiding baby and I'm dreaming
I'm riding down your moonlight mile

Unky Buck's picture

I agree here. I took this a different way at first, but then re-read it and yeah, it basically means they aren't letting them sign anything. Guess the jersey AJ Hawk signed for me, which was a Christmas gift to my dad, would never have happened if this rule existed then.

If you jiggle your monitor, does that make a jiggly gif?

CALPOPPY's picture

It's just a conspir-a-see by the NC-double A to control autographs so that they can get a cut of the profits! The fewer the autographs, the more valuable they become. Step three...profit.
/removes tinfoil hat and goes to bed in an underground, lead-walled bunker.

I'm a hurtin' buckaroo.

Larryp713's picture

An excellent an entertaining summary. Ramzy, all kidding aside, anybody who can reduce 800 plus pages of legalise to the sanctimonious NC2A, into a digestible and entertaining post should get a pullitzer prize. Or at least an invite to NY! Great job.



Tim's picture

I'm sure the coaches, players, and compliance staff are excited about the ridiculous amount of paperwork that will be required now.  Oh well, at least we can overload the NCAA with it to prove a point.

spqr2008's picture

Personally, I think we should present all paperwork in triplicate, and have someone low on the totem pole (hire me as a temp!) deliver it all directly to the NCAA by dumping the paper all over their lobby, then telling them to "Clean this s*** up".  I could be a convenient scapegoat as a temp, and nothing would happen except a big egg on my face and the NCAA's.

BUCKfutter's picture

Ding! Fries are Done

thanks, now that will be going through my head the rest of the day

the kids are playing their tail off, and the coaches are screwing it up! - JLS

Poe McKnoe's picture

Sounds like it makes sense to outlaw autographs...except that makes autographs more profitable, thus making an athelete who is breaking the rules more money.

AngelHeartsBuckeyes's picture

No autographs? Really? Is this self-imposed? I am sorry, I just cant get behind that one.

Buckeye born and bred. Buckeye til I'm dead.

SouthBayBuckeye's picture

So it's like being Catholic? "if it feels good, don't do it".

Banned from ATO since June 3rd 2PMish PST

buckeyedude's picture

LOL. But if you do do it, just make sure to feel really guilty.



Bucknut-in-the-South's picture

Another masterpiece, sir, but for the juxtaposition of Hester Prynne and John Prine, both of whom are interesting and non-compliant individuals. 

Ramzy Nasrallah's picture

Not even going to correct it. Have an upvote.

Hockeybuck's picture

I used to get tickets from a former player who I had known his whole life, and I would get a phone call from someone at OSU (don't know if it was the Athletic Department or Compliance Department).  The player had to leave the name and phone number of each person a ticket was for.  I received a call before every game asking how I knew the player, and if the ticket was for me. 
When I picked the ticket up at the player will call, whether at the 'Shoe or on the road, the tickets were given at a location that did not allow you to go back outside (if you were of the mindset to try to sell it), and had to enter the stadium immediately after producing an ID and signing for them. 
So it seems to me that they already had this covered. 

brylee's picture

9. Safety Exceptions:  ~The best example is regarding the OSU Pistol Team, where a coach is only allowed to be present without the session counting as an official practice session "when the student-athlete is shooting." Oh. Okay.

Football being a violent and dangerous sport, (ask Sabino and Hall), one might surmise this same rule could be applied in the Spring, by Urban.

Akeem96's picture

Didn't all BTN viewers witness Braxton, Denard, etc. sign a big bus when the BTN traveling road show visited each fall camp in August?
That almost seems "organized".

vtbuckeye's picture

If that is organized, then OSU compliance will report a secondary violation (or something like that) to the NCAA.  I can see the headline now "tOSU reports 7000 secondary violations" and when you look futher it comes from autographs (every paper that does not have a typed name on it).